Rick Barnes has been a head coach since 1987, enjoying a career that has spanned from George Mason to Providence to Clemson to Texas and, now, Tennessee.
Currently, he has the Vols in the No. 1 spot in the AP Poll with a record of 20-1 (8-0 in SEC play). But, is this the best team he’s ever coached.
After a 93-76 win over Texas A&M on Saturday night, Barnes was asked that very question. He mentioned the 2002-03 Longhorns squad that went to the Final Four, but added that this year’s Vols have a chance to be even better (via 247Sports):
“Well, the team that went to the Final Four at Texas was a pretty good team,” he said. “That was a pretty good team. It’s hard as a coach to say what your best team is (until it’s) put in the book, from start to finish. We’ve had some good teams here. I would like to think this team’s best basketball is ahead of them. I really think it can be. But I do think they understand they have to continue to get better. At this point in time it’s hard to say. But this has been a fun group of guys to coach and a fun group to watch how they’ve matured together, how they’ve grown up together. They still know they have work to do, they all do.”
That Texas team had future NBA players like T.J. Ford, Royal Ivey and James Thomas, making it to the Final Four before losing to eventual champion Syracuse.
Can the Vols make it even further this March? It will be a lot of fun to watch.